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When is the cheapest weekend to visit Disney World?

You're more likely to find Disney hotel deals later in the summer, as fewer families plan trips before kids return to school.

By May 8, 2014 11:43AM

This post comes from Lindsay Sakraida at partner site DealNews.

DealNews on MSN MoneyMost kids would probably like to visit Disney World year-round, but there's no denying the fact that a trip during the summer months, when kids are free from school, makes the most sense for many families. But just because you have to travel to the Happiest Place on Earth during the busy season doesn't mean you can't try to save money in the process.

Cinderella's Castle, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida © Greg Balfour Evans / Alamy
In our quest to pinpoint the absolute best time to visit Disney World in Orlando over the summer, we turned to the good folks at Priceline. They provided DealNews with exclusive 2013 price information from hundreds of Disney-accessible Orlando hotels, so we could see what families will pay for accommodations in the coming months.

Snag the best Disney hotel deals in late summer
Priceline discovered that, in terms of nightly hotel rates, the cheapest weekend to visit Disney during the summer season is the second to last weekend of August — aka, the weekend before Labor Day weekend. Conversely, the most expensive time is the last weekend in June. When comparing the average nightly rates for these weekends, the price advantage might seem relatively slight, as the difference is $12 per night, or 14% more to lodge during that June weekend.

However, pricing between the two weekends is especially notable when we break the data down by hotel star rating. Priceline's mid-level, 3-star rating is likely to be the more mainstream option for a family traveling on a budget. Luckily, when we compare the weekends based on the cost for 3-star hotels, the savings are more significant. There's a 23% increase in cost during the aforementioned June weekend, or a difference of $22 per night. Depending on the length of stay and number of rooms needed, that can add up very quickly.

Rates change depending on school schedules
The reason why pricing works out this way is likely because of the academic calendar. Schools finish at varying times across the country, but most are closed for the year in early to mid June. Traveling at the end of the month then is ideal (and safely available) for vacation-eager families to head down to Florida.

On the other hand, kids start returning to school around Labor Day, or early September. Since families are mentally preparing to send their kids back to their daily schedule, late August is probably overlooked as a possibility for major summer travel, driving prices down. Moreover, it's likely that many families have plans for Labor Day on the following weekend, however slight, and traveling the weekend before might therefore be less popular in general.

Cheapest weekend to visit Disney WorldThe end of the school year is nigh, and if parents haven't yet scheduled a group trip, they are likely itching to plan something that will keep their young ones mentally occupied for that long stretch of time. But if you can hold out and opt for late summer instead, you'll reap the benefits of cheaper prices during the second to last weekend of August. (And once you're there, you'll have even more ways to save on admission, concessions, and more, for the ultimate budget trip.)

Readers, are any of you planning a trip to Disney this summer? What are your tips for saving while at the Happiest Place on Earth? Let us know in the comments below.

More from DealNews
May 8, 2014 3:20PM
Staying on the grounds at Disney is the only way to truly enjoy everything that Disney has to offer.
May 8, 2014 1:35PM
Disney has a free meal plan right now!  Two meals and a snack a day, good from certain check in dates from August until December!!!!  Check it out and go, nothing beats free meals!!
I have never been to Disney and hope to take my kids one day (better when they are older and remember it later on in life). From what I've heard, it can get quite pricey, but really depends on how you spend your $$.
May 8, 2014 3:13PM
Go to the magic kingdom and watch your money magically evaporate. But, hey, it's magic.
May 8, 2014 2:49PM
Saying Disney for less is like saying you can get a small discount on a 250 thou Rolls Royce.  
May 8, 2014 9:04PM
I have lived in Florida for 12 years and will probably never go back to Disney. They have taken the magic out of it by exploiting the prices. Yes there are valid ways to save money by bringing your own water and snacks but who wants to lug all that stuff around. In addition, they changed the handicap accessibility guidelines which detrimentally affects those who truly need a wheelchair to get around the park and ride the few rides that work for us. Disney has become so greedy- Walt would be ashamed. It was meant to be an affordable family memory but unless you bring home 6 figures or take out a loan it is out of reach for middle class people!
May 8, 2014 4:21PM
I remember paying $19.95 to get in the park !!
May 8, 2014 2:47PM

Stay off resort.  Windsor Hills and Windsor Palms are rental homes that include private pools for each house.  Houses are located less than 10 minutes from all parks.  Houses up to 6 or 7 bedrooms will allow two families to stay.  Houses are fully furnished and allow you to eat at home for breakfast before heading to the parks and if on a budget, for dinner too.  Houses are typically $1400-$1700 for a week, even in peak season.  we are going in October and we found a 5 bedroom house for just under $1400 with pool heat included. 

if flying, pack light, the houses are outfitted with a washer/dryer so a load or two of clothes can limit baggage and save money for paying for checked bags.

if married with kids, unless you plan on a suite at Disney, there is no get away from the kids in a standard room.  In Windsor Hills, put the kids to bed and enjoy a glass of wine with you husband by the pool and take an evening swim.  And if you are a family of more than 4, the cost of a second room at Disney is outweighed by the savings of a house at Windsor Hills.

we have a bunch of friends that stayed on resort and have now tried the rental house option.  They will never go back to Disney resorts. 

May 9, 2014 10:52AM
May 8, 2014 10:29PM

We have been going to Disney World once or twice a year since 2006.  We just returned a couple of weeks ago and this is the first time I can say we were disappointed.  For the 2 of us in a moderate resort, no meal plan and a 5-day park hopper we paid over $1500 and then had to purchase our food.  They put chips in their cups so we paid $17.99 a piece to have soda at our resort, the MagicBand didn't work half the time, the FastPass+ didn't allow you to do Fast Passes in more than 1 park and only 3 in a day and then they tiered them so you couldn't do some rides if they were in the same upper tier (the day we returned they changed this but too late for us to take advantage).  Our additional expense was $700 and we purchased nothing to bring home with us. 

We saved by going to a grocery store and microwaving our breakfasts, and packed sandwiches and water and took them into the parks with us.  Still in total we were well over $2,300 and that didn't include our gas, hotel down & back or any other incidentals while driving.  Not a cheap trip by any means!

May 9, 2014 8:31AM
No time is a good time to visit Disney World. Who has the money to go on a vacation like that anymore? All our money is being spent on healthcare costs and the rising cost of living.
May 8, 2014 3:59PM

 Rent nice condos online through VRBO for $600 per week, Freeze water bottles and put in soft side cooler with sandwiches, fruit cups and snacks for lunch. Then go to the parking lot and relax in your rental car for an hour while everyone else in the park stands in line for there lunch reservation.

We go to Disney/Universal every year. while the park tickets are getting more and more expensive, packing a lunch and using VRBO for lodging offsets the cost.

May 8, 2014 5:47PM
I don't know about disneyworld, but we have had disneyland passes for years. The best times seem to be late august, all of september, early november, and then most of january and february. If you go then you will not have to wait in lines or deal with crowds. We don't even attempt it other times of the year. 
If ya have two kids ya better have some way of extra cash to sport them at DL. Stay at any hotel, cheap or not. Take em once a year. Your kids and their future thoughts about family values is key. DL is a big part of that. They will remember even without pictures and love you 4-ever. Its great fun, and yes way too pricey. Frozen bottled water and granola bars help save on food cost. Camping and other activities are also family valued precious times together. Next thing you know, they grew up and dont care anymore and then your on the wait wagon wondering when you will have grandchildren to take to DL with the whole family. :) 
May 9, 2014 10:06AM
After taking two trips to Disney World in the past two years, I'm done with that place........ Forever. Paying to stand in line. Spend three hours in line to get on a ride. Stand in line for 45 minutes to get lunch. After you get lunch stand in line for 20 minutes to get a table to eat your lunch at. Stand in line for one hour to ride a terribly lame ride from 1960. Stand in line for 3 hours to ride the one decent ride. Watch some old robot bears that make Chucky Cheese look classy. All of the parks in Disney World are overrated. A human trap run by a mouse.
May 9, 2014 11:07AM
If your budget would only allow you to visit one of the theme parks; Chose Universal Studios ! WHY?
1-better value for you money,
2-it has more than just kids stuff.
3- (and this is a big one) You can drink ANYWHERE inside the park. Believe me, you'll need a few.
May 9, 2014 11:57AM
When they are closed is the cheapest.
May 9, 2014 11:14AM
I went to Disney in April and it was awesome. The longest time I spent on a line waiting for a ride was maybe 30 minutes. I did my research before going and knew which rides where the most popular and got fast passes for them. I also took advantage of the single rider lines that some rides offer. I think my total trip for three people including air fare from New York, hotel, food and park tickets was around $3500. Its a little pricey but its not something we do often so we didn't complain about price. I didn't stay in a Disney hotel but was still close enough to walk to Downtown Disney. I would advise anyone going to stay on site just because its more convenient and do your research. Your spending your money do it wisely and find out which options work for you and your family.
May 9, 2014 8:46AM
We used our executive membership from Costco and used Costco travel to book our happiest-place-on-earth vacation. This included two day park hopper passes (express pass included), character dining, $20 gift card to ESPN Zone, and 3-night stay at the Fairfield Mariott (Good neighbor hotel) that is literally across the street from Disneyland.  For a grand total of $1400.00 (family of 4)! The hotel's rooms are all Disney-themed and have a golden mickey in the lobby. I definitely recommend using your Costco membership for other than great deals on bulk items!
May 9, 2014 1:10PM
We went several times in the summer,we finally figured out how to do it right. Extremely hot and muggy Disney World in the summer and lines are terribly long.SOOOO do the waterparks all day,and the amusement park at night,take a rain poncho with, it usually rains for some reason at night the amusement park clears out and your kids can have free reign on the park,
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